BERLIN, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Volkswagen must undertake further efforts to improve its corporate culture in response to the "dieselgate" scandal, Larry Thompson, the company's independent compliance auditor (ICA), told press on Monday.
Speaking at the Volkswagen Group's corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg, Thompson said that the German carmaker still had a long way to go with regards to integrity, compliance and culture.
Nevertheless, he praised a "series of positive processes" which Volkswagen had initiated after being found guilty of installing illicit software to falsify nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) from diesel vehicles in the United States.
Thompson was nominated by U.S. judicial authorities to supervise business practices at Volkswagen in the wake of the "dieselgate" scandal. The 72-year-old's comments were made on the same day as his specially-appointed team of 60 compliance experts published the first of three officially scheduled ICA reports.
Amongst others, Thompson lamented in the document that he had experienced delays in receiving information from Volkswagen. "This topic must be clarified swiftly in the next reporting period in order for the ICA to be able to fulfill its task effectively", the interim report stated.
"The VW defendants have promised further improvements in their provision of information and increased the frequency of discussions with the ICA regarding this topic," Thompson added. In total, the ICA identified 240 unspecified "corrective actions" which Volkswagen would have to take in 2018 to ensure that it fulfilled new compliance standards.
Hiltrud Werner, the recently-appointed director for integrity and justice at Volkswagen, highlighted on Monday that it would take several years for reforms to reach all 12 brands of the automotive group and 650,000 global employees. "We have a marathon ahead of us", Werner said.
Speaking at Volkswagen's latest Annual General Meeting (AGM), chief executive officer (CEO) Herbert Diess argued that long-term commercial success could only be secured with a corporate culture centered on "decency". As a consequence, the Dax-listed firm needed to become "more honest" and "more transparent" in the way it conducted business.
According to the newspaper "BILD", Volkswagen is currently preparing to sack several senior staff members in connection to the "dieselgate" scandal and thus give in to a long-standing demand for personnel changes by Thompson. "BILD" cited information that immediate dismissal notices sent by mail were already on the way to affected individuals.
If the report proves true, it would mark a U-turn in Volkswagen's handling of the crisis after having previously shown leniency towards staff which have not yet been convicted of wrongdoing. Volkswagen has hesitated to fire Rupert Stadler, CEO of its Audi luxury subsidiary, for example, in spite of being jailed by German authorities in the course of "dieselgate" investigations over nine weeks ago.